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The new censors of Hanoi

Communism and capitalism make awkward bedfellows, especially when it comes to culture. The government continues to monitor art exhibitions and music shows, films and TV programs, books and CDs. In classic Communist tradition, it still officially bans “offenses against the state” (an all-encompassing and ill-defined crime), violations of custom (like mannequins without underwear) or behavior it deems deviant (like hair dyed in bright colors). But the new enforcers of these old restrictions are driven less by ideological purity than by a mixed bag of political correctness and market-driven concerns — and this may be hampering artistic creation more than conventional censorship did under classically Communist governments.

…Le Quang Ha and Le Hong Thai made unflattering portraits of politicians, but even when they painted over them, the faintly discernible silhouettes that remained would earn them official reprimands…

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